Skip To Content
Blog
Search

How to stay healthy during the holidays

It’s that time of year again. Yes, holiday cold season. Here are some tips for staying healthy through new years.

father and son enjoy a holiday meal together

The holiday season is almost upon us, and you know what that means: It’s time to practice your karaoke version of “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” and to dig out those flashcards to help you remember the names of your partner’s colleagues at the company holiday party.

Also, it’s time to prepare your family for cold and flu season. We spoke with Dr. Steve Lauer, the associate chair of pediatrics at the University of Kansas Health System, about how to stay healthy(ish) during the chilly, travel-focused months ahead.

Get a flu shot

“Make sure everybody is appropriately vaccinated,” Lauer told us. “Everyone over six months old needs to get vaccinated. It’s not just for the kids—it’s parents, grandparents… everyone who’s going to be involved with the kids during the season.”

Those on the younger or older ends of the aging spectrum should get the pneumococcal vaccine, too. This can help prevent that other common seasonal illness: strep.

If you’re traveling, germs are inevitable. Prepare accordingly.

Kids love to explore, which is normally a healthy thing, just not when it means touching (or, eek, licking) every germ-covered surface on the plane. Because that’s human nature, there’s not much you can do to prevent it, but you can try and limit the harm, Lauer says. Some easy tips include carrying hand sanitizer and reminding your kids to cover their coughs, as well as cleaning them up periodically to try and wipe up the germs. “But short of bundling them up and putting them in a box, there’s not so much you can do,” Lauer says.

And then, whether you’re at home or out and about, try and keep obviously sick people away from your kids. That might be hard to do if their irrepressible grandma is coming down with something, or if you yourself are sick. (More on that below.)

Easy + Simple + Inexpensive

“The easiest, simplest process for receiving term life insurance. And the premiums were the lowest quote.” —Michael

Learn more
Average rating as of March 2018: 9.4/10
Read more at TrustPilot

Eat healthy…ish

It’s no secret that the holidays are a great time for gorging yourself on pies, cocktails and pie-themed cocktails. Lauer recognizes that we’re all only human, but a little moderation can go a long way. “There’s usually a ton of food around, so it’s important to make sure that we’re staying healthy with our food choices at least some of the time,” he says. “Make sure we’re not overdoing unhealthy choices, all the sweets and that. For the adults, making sure we’re not overdoing the adult beverages. Staying to some healthy parameters of what’s going into our bodies at this time.”

If you’re like us, you have at least one relative who will sneak your kid sweets when you’re not looking. It’s up to you if you want to fight that battle directly, but you can counteract it by keeping some healthy snacks on hand for the young ones. That said, if you haven’t been modeling and teaching healthy eating habits, this probably isn’t the season to start. “Food is supposed to be part of the whole holiday experience,” Lauer says. “You don’t want to be sitting there eating your tofu and your kale (though those are fine, too). If they’ve been eating sweets and chips and drinking sodas [all year long], this is probably not the time to start working on eating habits. Save that for the beginning of the year.”

Oh, and as for what foods might help stave off that next cold, “The answer to that really doesn’t change from the rest of the year,” Lauer says. “You want to make sure you’re keeping up with fruits and vegetables, since that’s where a lot of our vitamins and minerals come from—B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc. The sweets and fatty foods we focus on during the holiday season don’t have those.”

And finally, while you might associate dehydration with those long-gone sweaty summer days, it turns out you should be drinking lots of water in the cold months, too. “In winter, we’re not sweating as much, so people tend to drop off on their fluid intake,” Lauer says. “Frankly, almost everybody is dehydrated, which is one of those things that make the body not work as well.

Rest up, and call in sick if you have to

“It’s a time where we’re busy, and our schedules are packed,” Lauer says. “So make sure everybody gets their sleep. We tend to short ourselves because we’re busy—but the reality is, for our immunity, we need to be well rested.”

And while most of us don’t mind missing a day of work here or there—we’ll assume our boss isn’t reading this—skipping the office holiday party, or a Thanksgiving feast with the family, is a non-starter. But if you or your kids are sick, it’s probably the right thing to do. “People try and fight through it, so they stay sicker longer and get other people sick,” Lauer says. “We’re trying to see family, maybe some we haven’t seen in a while. But you just compound the whole problem.” Keep in mind that younger and older relatives are especially vulnerable during flu season, so you don’t want to be the one responsible for getting them sick.

Mind the weather

It’s cold outside (obviously), but spending a whole day inside with your family can be a shortcut to insanity. So if you venture out of doors, just keep an eye on how long you’re out there, especially if your child is as coat-averse as mine. “Kids will run outside until they’re literally blue, and they’ll still say ‘No, I’m fine,’” Lauer says. “As we get below freezing—especially into the teens, that bitter cold—the younger kids will get cold pretty quickly because they’re not very big. Some time outside is better for the kids’ physical health and probably the parents’ mental health. But after 10 or 15 minutes, you have to pay attention. Just like leaving them in the car in the middle of the summer can be a threat.”

It turns out the change in the weather can also affect the inside of your home, which you might already know if you have indoor allergies. “If you’re allergic to mold, look around the house,” Lauer says. “Is there anything hiding under some tile or behind some wood? It’s certainly a chance to look around the house—basements, bathrooms, see if anything that snuck in over the summer.”

All of which is to say: Use your common sense. If you’re sick, rest up and try not to get anyone else sick. Try and eat right, both for your long-term health and so your immune system is at full power. And accept that, even if you do all of those things, some sickness is probably inevitable—for you, and your little ones.

Get our newsletter

There’s more great content where this came from.

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Avatar

About Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Read more by Louis Wilson

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

You might also like

Get our most-read stories, twice a month

What our customers are saying

Sign up for our newsletter

Get our most-read stories, twice a month

Thanks for signing up. See you in your inbox soon.

!-- Google Tag Manager (noscript) -->